Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
CASUALTY AND MISCELLANEOUS]
659
INSURANCE


common interests. It has done rrfore than all repressive legislation to destroy the gambling spirit. It is impossible to conceive of our civilization in its full vigour and progressive power without this principle which unites the fundamental law of practical economy, that he best serves humanity who best serves himself, with the golden rule of religion, “ Bear ye one an0ther's burdens.”

II. CASUALTY AND MISCELLANEOLTS INSURANCE

Before proceeding with an account of the standard institutions of nre and life insurance, it is proper to glance at the modern vast extension of casualty insurance, and to notice certain novel applications of the insurance principle to other special classes of events. The novelty of these enterprises, however, is not in the general idea underlying each of them. In almost every instance in which insurance has been extended, so as successfully to cover new kinds of risks, it will be found that the suggestion is nearly as old as the practice of life insurance. Many more kinds of insurance than are even now found useful were attempted more than a century ago. But no statistical basis then existed for determining the probability of loss from various casualties, nor had the methods of canvassing, accounting, proving and checking losses, reached the perfection now recognized as necessary for efficiency and safety. The various branches of business which, in distinction from the great standard institutions of life, fire and marine insurance, are commonly treated as miscellaneous insurance, differ widely in their subjects and methods. The most general of them, and that most widely known, is insurance against personal injury by accidents of every kind. Much has already been done by the companies in collecting and analysing facts, so as to determine the average risk of injury and disablement among different classes of men. But there is as yet no such union of effort among them to combine their resources for such purposes as among the life companies, nor does the subject admit of treatment so exact as that of human mortality. Hence it is impossible to speak of a theory of accident insurance in a scientific sense; and in its practice premiums and necessary reserves are determined by the trained business judgment of individual managers rather than by the calculations of actuaries from statistical collections of facts. The insurance of railway travellers against injury upon trains was the first form of accident insurance which proved widely acceptable. This is still practised as a special business by several companies, tickets, entitling the purchaser or his family to a fixed compensation in case of his injury or death, being offered for sale with the railway tickets. But the development of insurance against personal injuries, which is most characteristic of the times, is the wholesale insurance of the employer against liability to the employed for accidental injuries sustained in his service. This was first undertaken on a large scale by the “ Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation of London, ” founded for the purpose in 1880, immediately after the passage of the Employers' Liability Act by parliament, which made employers of labour liable for injuries sustained in their service to an extent unknown to the common law. The W0rkmen's Compensation Act 1906 greatly extended the classes of employers liable for accidents to their servants, and the number of companies devoting themselves to accidents and workmen's compensation has greatly increased, while practically every fire insurance office has taken up the business. The policies are issued to employers of labour, agreeing to indemnify them for any loss to which they may be subjected, at common law or by statute, in consequence of bodily injuries suffered by any employee while engaged in their service. In some cases the insurance company undertakes the investigation and settlement of each claim within the limits prescribed by the policy, and conducts any litigation which may result. The adjustment of damages can be made with more economy and skill by the companies than is usually possible for the employer, and the danger of fraudulent claims is largely reduced by methods experience has taught them. The price charged for such insurance is either a small percentage of the aggregate wages paid during the term, or a standard rate for each particular class of employment, or (in the case of large employers of labour) an “ all-round ” rate designed to cover every class of employee. The most common form of accident insurance, however, is still represented by the policy which promises the assured a fixed sum in case of death by accident, and a. weekly compensation during disability from such a cause. Mai? policies also specify a sum to be aid or the loss or permanent amagle of a member, as an eye, a hand or foot. Another extension of the personal accident licy 'is the addition of some form of health insurance, especially tiig grant of a weekly sum to the insured during inca acity for work caused by certain named diseases. Besides the ordinary joint stock companies which carry on this class of business with fixed premiums, many associations organize for insurance against personal injury by accident, relying upon the assessment of members to pay claims as they mature. Many of these are local and ephemeral; but a number of them, formed by men engaged in common pursuits, for mutual protection, have attained importance. Such are es ecially some of the commercial travellers' and the railway empfbyees' accident associations, and a few connected with the Masonic or similar beneficiary orders.

Another large class of casualty insurances applies to various forms of dama e to property. The branch which seems most to have attracted promoters is the insurance of plate glass against fracture, which is carried on by a number of companies in Great Britain, and is the only business of several of them. In the United States there are five' corporations which insure plate glass alone, while many other casualty companies issue also policies on glass. This business is not conducted in any other country upon so large a scale as in the United States, but is attracting more attention than heretofore in Europe, and especially in Great Britain.

There are several companies in the United Kingdom and in America which make the insurance against damage by the explosion of steam boilers a special feature of their work, but by far the greater part of the business is transacted by one company in each country. The service rendered is one of special skill and vigilance, .extending far beyond the contract for indemnity. The company, in fact. employs inspectors of the highest scientific qualifications, who assume constant supervision of the machinery, and require its structure and conduct to be freed from elements of danger. It is prevention rather than compensation that is sought, and the outlay made by the companies is mainly for inspection and control, not for losses. It is usual to promise in a policy upon a steam boiler some compensation also for any personal injury which may result from an explosion.

There are some companies in England having insurance agtainst burglary for their principal purpose, while severa of the Britis and American accident companies issue policies of this kind. It is somewhat of an experiment, and the risks taken are for moderate sums, at premiums determined in each case by an estimate of the danger founded on a study of all the circumstances. There is no information published concerning this branch of insurance in other countries, but the aggregate premiums paid are not at present very large. It is believed by many that there is an important future for burglary insurance, in connexion with improved methods of protection, by safes, automatic alarms and constant inspection, for dwelling-houses, shops and offices, which are often unoccupied.

Insurance against damage to growing crops by hail is practised in several parts of Europe and America, commonly by small local associations on the mutual plan or as an incident to the business of fire insurance. No statistics can be obtained of these operations. The same is true of the insurance against the ravages of tornadoes, and against sickness and accident in domestic animals. A wholly distinct business, commonly classed as a branch of insurance, has now grown to great importance, that of guaranteeing the fulfilment of contracts and of indemnifying employers against defalcations in their service. The bond of a corporation of large capital is widely taking the place which personal surety has filled in connexion with undertakings on contract, and with offices and occupations of trust, both in public and in private life. Fidelity insurance is carried on by a few of the general casualty companies, but as the practice of it extends it becomes more and more the work of special institutions organized for this purpose alone. In the United States there are many corporations 0 excellent standing, with ag regate paid-up capital of more than $15,000,000 and surplus funds of nearly $10,000,000 more, and collecting in premiums aboilt $4,000,000 annually upon bonds and guaranties amounting to more than $I,250,000,000. The business practically only started at the close of the 19th century. It has had similar if not equal development in Great Britain and in several other countries, but it is only in the United States that the statistics of it are officially collected, The insurance of titles to real propert is also becoming widely extended. This business, however, has indemnity for losses as but an incidental purpose. The principal aim is to furnish a final and responsible assurance that the title is flawless. Several of the companies in the United States possess elaborate and expensive collections of records, covering the sources of title for cities or large districts; all of them em loy expert ability of a high order; and

when they approve a titf; as perfect, the purchaser or lender of